Regarded as one of the most famous Dali attractions, Erhai Lake (ěrhǎi, 洱海) is the largest alpine lake famous for its natural beauty and scenic spots and it is the second largest fresh water lake next to the Dian Lake in Yunnan Province. Located 2 km. (1.2 mi.) away from Dali City and covering an area of 250 sq. km. (97 sq. mi.), it shapes like an ear, thus getting its name. It boasts its beautiful lake, clean water, abundant water resources and unpolluted surrounding landscape, which make it stands out among many other lakes.
Seen from the sky, the Erhai Lake looks like a crescent lying quietly between the Cangshan Mountain and Dali Ancient City. Its magic landscape is made up of three islands, four sandbars and five lakes with snow- capped Cangshan Mountain surrounded. This is an unspoilt lake and the water is so clean that if you see clearly the bottom of the lake which is 20 m deep. Its enchanting landscape will change in different time of a day. If you come here in the morning, it will be covered by a golden veils and in the afternoon, you will see numerous fishing boats lying quietly on the lake, which give a tranquil atmosphere for the area. The lake has gained many beautiful titles since the ancient time such as the Jade Ear of the Silver Cang Mountain, the Emerald on the Plateau, the Golden Crescent and the Mother Lake of the Bai nationality living in Dali City.
The Beautiful surrounding islands, temples and villages also add great charm for the lake. The most outstanding attractions include Erhai Lake Park and the Butterfly Springs on the Western hills. The Erhai Park boasts its numerous pines, flowers, pavilions and an animal zoo and hiking high on the hill, you will get a panorama of the golden crescent, which enable you to savor greatly the leisure of life. Moreover, the five Islands on the lake are also a natural scenic spots worthy of a visit.
The Erhai Lake is a well protected water resource and a home to varieties of fishes. It is regarded as an an important food source for the local Bai ethnic groups. If you come to Dali City, this attraction is surely your first stop. It only cost 5 Yuan by taxi from any place in Dali town to get there and the entrance fee is 40 RMB. It is recommended that you spend half a day here and you will surely gain much fun to your tour.